Two recent stories highlight the fact that the homosexual rights movement is and always has been a zero-sum game. To the extent that the movement achieves its goals, moral traditionalists lose. There is not a compromise point where moral traditionalists can keep some reasonable ability to hold their beliefs and live according to them but where homosexual rights activists also achieve their goals.
The first story is from Robert P. George and Breitbart. Chase Bank has put on its "voluntary" (cough cough) employee survey a question that asks employees to check "any of the following that apply to you," and one of the options is to identify themselves as "an LGBT ally." So if they don't check that one, then they are saying that they don't identify themselves as such an ally. Contrary to initial reports from the bank, employees state categorically that the survey is not anonymous; their employee ID number goes on it. So those who miss that opportunity to identify themselves as "LGBT allies" will be able to be identified by their employer.
It was mildly interesting to me that the first talking-point the left tried on this one was bald denial. With no evidence whatsoever, they implied that Professor George or his informant(s) were making the whole thing up out of whole cloth, that no such question had ever been asked on a survey at Chase Bank. Then Breitbart got hold of what purports to be an actual photo of the question! I don't know what the new talking-point is, but I'll make some predictions:
1) A few on the left will continue to deny the whole thing, claiming or insinuating that Breitbart is putting forward a forgery.
2) Others will shift to saying that the employees are lying when they say that the survey was not anonymous. They will also imply that the employees are lying about the pressure they are under to fill it out. It's voluntary, darn it, voluntary. So shut up!
3) And finally, I predict that some will simply say that, after all, if you aren't willing to identify yourself as an "ally" of the homosexual and transgender movements, you're a bigot and deserve to be punished anyway.
Nor are these mutually exclusive. I expect some on the left to move from one to the other.
The second story comes from a Massachusetts Christian college, Gordon College, which lost its contract to run a museum and theater productions at the Salem, MA, town hall. The "offense" for which the contract was terminated was the signature by Gordon College's President, D. Michael Lindsay, on a letter from various Christian colleges asking Obama to exempt Christian institutions from a projected executive order which would block federal money from going to colleges that "discriminate" on the basis of homosexual "orientation." Let us be clear here: In legal discourse, that phrase also means that discrimination on the basis of homosexual acts is prohibited.
Why do I say that this is a zero-sum game? Here's why: The goal of the homosexual and transgender rights movement is to make it a civil right not to be discriminated against on the basis of full, open, identification of oneself as homosexual or transgender. It should be a civil right to live according to that self-identification and be protected from negative social consequences, at least in any economic interaction such as hiring, admission to a school, and so forth. That is only one of their goals, actually, but it definitely is a goal. Such a self-identification is to be treated in society and in law as similar to a racial self-identification. Any negative social opinions or actions on the basis of such an identification are to be treated as vile bigotry and punished both formally and informally accordingly.
It ought to be easy to see that moral traditionalists must lose, and lose big-time, if that goal is achieved. By now, one would hope that that would be evident, but for some it isn't. Some hoped, twenty years ago or so, that they could make a compromise by way of the "act-orientation" distinction. The idea was that Christians and Christian institutions could still prohibit their employees and representatives from engaging in homosexual acts but that we would all go about saying that it is always wrong to discriminate on the basis merely of the "orientation" to such acts. Now, bluntly put, it isn't always wrong to discriminate merely on the basis of sexual orientation. Plenty of examples could be given. But aside from that, such a compromise was never, never, never going to be accepted by the left. The left utterly despises and rejects the act/orientation distinction. They view open, active, and proud homosexuality as a category of personal identity worthy of the full protection of civil rights law, and that is the goal of their movement.
It's interesting to see that President Lindsay may still be hoping to get some sort of credit for compassion or what-not from the act-orientation distinction. Here is his statement:
"Be assured that nothing has changed in our position regarding admission or employment," he said. "We have never barred categories of individuals from our campus and have no intention to do so now. … As long as a student, a faculty member, or a staff member supports and lives by our community covenant documents, they are welcome to study or work at Gordon."
The implication is that homosexual students are not blocked as a "category" as long as they agree to live according to "community covenant documents," which presumably prohibit their engaging in sexual acts outside of marriage.
But that didn't work, did it? In fact, the college might as well have faced long ago the myriad problems with "not blocking" such a "category"--viz. What's the point of having separate sleeping arrangements for men and women at your college if you are going to put men and women with homosexual orientations into those sleeping arrangements with others of the same sex? Doesn't that kind of remove a whole lot of the point, such as privacy, from gender-divided living arrangements?
And then there's the elephant in the room of transgender rights. It may seem a little obvious, but since that "T" was slipped into the alphabet soup of perversions we are supposed to accept, it keeps getting overlooked: What in the world would it even mean to distinguish act and orientation when we are talking about someone who self-identifies as transgender? The whole point of being transgender is that one acts in a certain set of ways! One presents oneself and dresses as a member of the opposite sex (or one claims to have no gender), and one demands that others refer to one in that fashion, or even by some bizarre, made-up pronoun if one wishes to say that one has "no gender." Being transgender is all about social self-presentation and behavior. Those behaviors may or may not include sexual acts, but if Gordon's student and faculty covenant doesn't cover a man's dressing up as a woman, saying he's a woman, even having surgery, and demanding to be referred to as "Diane," perhaps the covenant needs to be updated. A sad necessity, but don't put it past the "trans community" to work up a test case! "I'm not violating the covenant. It doesn't say anything about this. And by the way, next week I'm getting married to a man, now that I'm a woman, and that doesn't violate anything mentioned in the covenant, either."
As for religious exemptions, given the analogy to race, why should religious institutions receive an exemption? Again, if the idea is that the opinions of moral traditionalists are bigotry and that acting on them is acting on bigotry, there is no particular reason why religious exemptions to laws against such allegedly bigoted behavior should be permitted. One could take a more strongly libertarian line and hold that people should be allowed to act like bigots if they want to, but that position is no part of the homosexual and transgender rights agenda, nor for that matter is it one of the premises of the civil rights movement on which the homosexual activists are basing their efforts.
The Chase Bank survey shows, too, that even your private opinions that dissent from the reigning orthodoxy will be hounded out into the open so that you can be penalized. One of the employees who reported the survey put it well:
With the way things are going and the fact that LGBT rights are being viewed as pretty much tantamount to the civil rights movement of the mid ‘50s to late ‘60s, not selecting that option is essentially saying, "I’m not an ally of civil rights," which is a vague way to say, "I’m a bigot." The worry among many of us is that those who didn’t select that poorly placed, irrelevant option will be placed on the ‘you can fire these people first’ list.
Exactly. No live and let live is possible. Suppose that A thinks that B is a pervert and B thinks that A is a bigot for thinking that B is a pervert. One of these perspectives is going to be controlling in various social interactions, and to the extent that it is, the person on the other side is going to be disfavored. If A is permitted to act upon his opinion that B is a pervert, it is entirely predictable that B will sometimes not get jobs, positions, or other favorable outcomes that he might want. If B (and those who agree with B) have the power and permission to act upon the opinion that A is a bigot for thinking that B is a pervert, then the same will follow, mutatis mutandis--A will be disfavored when his "bigotry" is discovered.
I would like to suggest to my Christian and other moral traditionalist friends that you stop right now saying, "I want LGBT people to have jobs" or "I am opposed to discrimination against homosexual people." Just stop. Even if you believe (I think, wrongly) that there are no situations in which pure "orientation" can legitimately have a negative impact upon hiring, admissions, or other decisions, and even if by "homosexual people" you mean merely to refer to orientation aside from acts, such statements are bound to be misunderstood. By saying such things, you also encourage in yourself the vain hope that you have found a place of compromise from which you can appear compassionate and reasonable to the left while not compromising your principles. You haven't, and you can't. Such statements may also create confusion about homosexual rights laws that prohibit "discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation." Such statements also ignore the entire web of issues that arise from the transgender movement. Do you really mean that you think a biological male should be able to get a job while demanding that everyone else play along with the pretense that he is a woman? Do you really mean that you are opposed to any "discrimination" on the basis of his making such demands?
This is a zero-sum game. There is a "them" and there is an "us." If they win, we lose. Getting that clear may be a grim realization, and it may lead to other, further, grim realizations. But one of the first necessities in a war, including a culture war, is clarity of mind. We conservatives need such clarity, now more than ever.